Kenya – My dream land. One of the few places to visit in my bucket list, so was very excited to be there. Landed on time at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi. As I opted for a visa on arrival, I got it at the immigration counter, which was really quick.
I met few workshop participants at the hotel during my breakfast next day. We were taken by a mini-van to the Wilson airport for a charter flight to Mara.
Since it is a small flight, they only allow small hand luggages. Rest of the luggage comes by road. I was allowed to carry the bazooka lens!!
The landing was smooth for a small flight. On the way to the camp we saw a lot of Wildebeest, Zebras, Impalas. Camp was amazing and it was next to the Mara river and middle of no where! Went for my first safari after lunch and managed to see a crossing.
A crossing is where the Wildebeest/Zebras cross the river. It is a dramatic, dust-filled experience of a life time. The wildebeest herds starts “building” when the herds gather before a crossing. Sometimes they congregate at the edge of the river and then for some unknwown reason, decide not to cross and turn around — teasing us, as we all waite anxiously for the show. There are no guarantees when it comes to a crossing. You may wait for hours and nothing happens, but when it does, it’s magical. As there were vehicles piled up already, we were not in a better position, but still managed to see a croc killing a wildebeest. Away from this mayhem, a hippo pod was taking it easy.
Saw a hyena and nearly at the end of the safari saw ‘ScarFace’, one of the iconic lions of Mara with 2 females and a young male. Light was getting very dark and even saw a leapord at a distance, but couldn’t take any pics. Once we reached the camp, we found our luggages have arrived by road. There is a media tent in the centre of the camp, where we can use laptops to download the pics and charge the battery /mobile.
The hippos were making a lot of noise and some of them were grazing near the tent! We were given a whistle to blow in case of emergencies…. 😉
Morning I was woken up at 5.30 by the masai with hot water to get ready for the morning safari. The safari started at 6.30. It was an amazing morning and it’s hard to explain the beautiful sunrise. Marlon, our photography guide gave some valuable inputs.
Saw a couple of female lions in the golden sun rise, which was amazing and then we drove for a few km away to see a male lion. It was Scar face again.
Then on the way to the crossing point, we saw a young male lion with a kill. Then waiting here at the crossing point was for nearly 3 hrs as the wildebeest was having their own mind to decide. In the afternoon, we saw a zebra trying to cross and one was taken over by 20+ crocodiles. Was emotional to hear the Zebra bark when taken down by the crocs, but it is raw nature.
This morning was much better at the crossing. After taking pictures of the crossing, we drove around in search of the cheetah and found a family of 5! They were resting under a tree as it was too hot. Jimmy, our driver/guide predicted that they were hungry and might hunt…soon one after the other went inside the tall grass and we found out that they were chasing a gazelle. They took the gazelle down in no time. That’s another hunting….
Evening safari was nothing interesting, but we saw a hyena’s den, where there were few cubs. They were so cute! I was told by Jimmy that it’s very difficult to track cheetahs and we were lucky to see them in action. He is one such a good/knowledgeable guide.
Day started with a real surprise, as when the masai gave me a wakeup call, he called to come out of my tent and wow…there was a giraffe next to my tent. Was so cool.
In the morning safari we found the highly elusive, bat-eared fox. They were grooming each other and it was nice to watch them… Went to another crossing, where a we saw wildebeest calf caught by a hiding leapord! It was hiding under the rock. Then it dragged the carcass up the bush… Some of the wildebeest are so lucky and one literally escaped from the crocs mouth
Also saw wildebeest escaping from the crocs mouth…literally…took pics of that. From photography point of view, learned a lot in these last few days with regards to composition/camera setting.
While returning from the afternoon safari saw Scarface again.. Got a cool pic of butterfly flying in front of his face….
A change to the start today. As most of the other participants have gone for a hot air balloon trip, it was only me in our vehicle. We found 2 female lionesses out of which one of them is pregnant. They were getting ready to hunt wildebeest, but the wind blew and the wildebeest sniffed their presence and ran away.
We then picked up the guys from their balloon trip and went out to look for the cheetahs. We found them! They were getting ready to hunt the wildebeest, but few vehicles went too close to them and drove them away.
Jimmy predicted their move across the road and we found a good spot. They went for the hunt this time and got a wildebeest. It happened so quickly I couldn’t track them to take some pics of the hunt. It all happened in few seconds.
On the way back to the camp we found a lioness stalking the wildebeest near a water hole. Then Marlon asked us to get ready as we might see a hunt. He was right, there were 3 other lions near the water hole and drove the wildebeest herd to the waiting line in the bush. Then one more lioness joined. They took down a wildebeest. We were the only in our group to take the shots.
Final day of the trip and had to return home. It was the best photography trip I’ve even been and this was my dream. Heart says come back every year for the migration, but wallet says not do so!!! 🙂 🙂 But will make it again in the next few years….